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Scaling great heights under thatched roof

ANDAVILLI SATYANARAYANA lists out the luminaries that passed out of S.R.R. & C.V.R. Government College and brought fame to the Telugu land



INCULCATING VALUES P.V. Narasimha Rao addressing students of S.R.R & C.V.R College when he was the State education minister.

It would sound strange but it is true that Vijayawada had a University long before a college was established here. Andhra University was established in 1928 in the present Victoria Jubilee Museum building with C.R.Reddy as its first vice-chancellor.

Very soon, it was shifted to salubrious Visakhapatnam, as he felt that there was no conducive atmosphere here for intellectual pursuits! It was a decade later in 1937, a second grade college with only Intermediate classes was set up, not by local people but by the munificence of Nuzvid zamindars. Thus, the S.R.R.College came into existence in 1937 in a non-descript rented building in Governorpet area.

Well-known philanthropist Chunduru Venkata Reddy donated a handsome amount and joined the management in 1945. The college was then re-named S.R.R. & C.V.R. College. It was taken over by the Government in 1958. Much later in 1949 it was upgraded into a degree college with only B.A. and B.Com. classes, while B.Sc. was introduced only in 1952. This was the only college in the city till 1954 when Andhra Loyola College was set up. By then, there were already established colleges in Guntur and Machilipatnam.

Sparkling brilliance

The S.R.R & C.V.R College had a good reputation for its excellent teaching faculty. P.Srinivasachar, a Ph.D from London University, was its second principal. Well noted scholars and poets joined the staff and among them, Viswanadha Satyanarayana, Jatavallabhula Purushotham, D.V.Krishnaiah, J.S.Sastry, B.R.Rao, P.Madhava Sarma, Anne Radhakrishna Murthy, C.S.Rama Narasimham and Jonnalagadda Satyanarayana were names to reckon with.

These names were very much in demand in literary and cultural functions in the State for their sparkling brilliance in their fields. I had the unique privilege of having the longest association with it as a student for four years, and as a member of the staff, for 33 years. It was also my rare good fortune to have got the opportunity to work along with some of the eminent teachers who taught me. Undoubtedly, the most distinguished alumnus to come out of the portals of the college was the celebrated N.T. Rama Rao, who carved a niche for himself in the Telugu film industry and went on to become the Chief Minister of the State.

NTR was Meesala Nagamma

Viswanadha Satyanarayana used to tell us how he spotted him in the class with a round face, chiselled features and rotund figure and asked him to play the role of Nagamma in his new play Vena Raju. As his father objected to removing his just-growing moustache, he donned the woman's role with it and the students teased him as Meesala Nagamma!

It was while serving here Viswanatha Satyanarayana wrote his magnum opus Ramayana Kalpa Vriksham, which brought him the coveted Jnanapeeth Award. P.V. Narasimha Rao, former Prime Minister, who translated his Veyi Padagalu into Hindi, visited the college to pay respects to him.

In its long history, the college produced many doctors, lawyers, engineers, bureaucrats, politicians and artists and quite a good number of them made a mark in public life. P.S. Rama Mohana Rao and V.Rama Rao rose to become Governors of States and Chanumolu Venkata Rao, Paladagu Venkata Rao and Devineni Rajasekhar became State Ministers. Prof. K. Rama Krishna Rao became the vice-chancellor of Andhra University. Pemmaraju Surya Rao and Ayyagari Syam Sundaram earned an abiding place in the State as musicians. Ninety-year-old Anne Radhakrishna Murthy, a direct student of S. Radhakrishnan, is the lone surviving member of the staff of the early years, who fits in the definition of a perfect gentleman. He has very pleasant reminiscences of those students, particularly NT Rama Rao. Students and staff lived as a well-knit family with excellent rapport among them, he says. For a long time, classes were conducted in thatched huts and sheds.

It was only during the past decade or so that the college witnessed development with the addition of fine buildings. Due to sustained efforts of the well-wishers of the college, P.G. classes were introduced. Accreditation by NAAC at the B+ level in 2004 is the latest feather in the college cap.

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